Rampant Wood fires England to series win over Pakistan

England’s Mark Wood celebrates after taking the wicket of Pakistan’s Zahid Mahmood during the fourth day of the second test cricket match between Pakistan and England, in Multan, Pakistan, Monday, Dec. 12, 2022.

England’s Mark Wood celebrates after taking the wicket of Pakistan’s Zahid Mahmood during the fourth day of the second test cricket match between Pakistan and England, in Multan, Pakistan, Monday, Dec. 12, 2022.
| Photo Credit: AP

Mark Wood grabbed four Pakistan wickets to give England a hard-fought 26-run win Monday in the second Test in Multan and take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series.

The fast bowler finished with 4-65 as Pakistan were dismissed for 328 about 50 minutes after lunch on day four, having been set a challenging 355-run target.

Wood, who missed England’s 74-run win in the first Test in Rawalpindi with a hip injury, turned the match in England’s favour with the wickets of Mohammad Nawaz (45) and Saud Shakeel (94) in the space of 12 balls and one run.

Pakistan slumped to 291-7 at lunch, and after the break Agha Salman (20 not out) and Abrar Ahmed (17) tried to hit out for an unlikely win to keep the series alive.

But James Anderson had Ahmed caught, Wood dismissed Zahid Mahmood without scoring and Ollie Robinson ended the match with the wicket of number eleven Mohammad Ali for zero, sparking celebrations in the England camp.

Anderson and Robinson took two wickets apiece.

The win gives England their eighth win in the nine Tests since Brendon McCullum took over as head coach and Ben Stokes as captain in May this year.

Those victories have been built around “Bazball”, a term coined from McCullum’s nickname, and describing the aggressive free-wheeling approach the New Zealander has instilled in the side since taking over.

England are now world champions in the 50-over and T20 versions of the game and rapidly ascending the Test rankings ladder.

This becomes England’s third series win in Pakistan after victories 1961 and 2000 — although they haven’t toured in 17 years because of security issues.

“It was pleasing the way we stuck at the task of going out and putting them under pressure even if conditions aren’t in our favour,” said Stokes afterwards.

“Jimmy, Robbo and Woody put in a seriously good effort, so hats off to the lads. The way they bowled throughout the game, they looked a huge threat.”

Shakeel, who hit eight boundaries in his 314-minute vigil, added 80 runs with Nawaz as England found wickets hard to come by on a Multan pitch that slowed considerably as the game progressed.

In a last-ditch effort, Stokes brought in Wood before lunch and was instantly rewarded with Nawaz caught by wicketkeeper Ollie Pope.

In his next over Wood forced Shakeel to play a pull shot off a short ball that caught his glove, with Pope taking a diving catch to his left.

Replays were inconclusive as to whether the ball scraped the ground before Pope caught it, but, controversially, the third umpire deemed there was not enough evidence to overturn the decision.

Pakistan skipper Babar Azam accepted it as part of the game.

“As professionals we need to respect and follow the umpire’s decision,” he said.

“We made mistakes as a team,” said Azam after Pakistan lost their last six wickets for 37 in the first innings and last five for 38 in the second.

Resuming on 198-4, Pakistan had lost Faheem Ashraf in the sixth over of the day for 10, caught at slip for spinner Joe Root’s 50th wicket.

The third and final Test starts in Karachi from Saturday.

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